Anthropogenic climate change and the nature of Earth system science

Frank Oldfield*, Will Steffen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    One of the criticisms made by those sceptical of the majority scientific consensus on climate change and its likely future consequences is that the Earth System science upon which it is based is fundamentally flawed. This contention is challenged here by an outline of the nature of the science needed to make future projections possible. The classic Popperian approach to science, in which potentially refutable hypotheses are defined and tested is not well suited to the challenges posed by an Earth System that is characterised by high degrees of complexity, non-linearity and a lack of definable cause-consequence relationships. A science based on model-data comparisons and interactions is the only effective approach both to increasing our understanding of the Earth System and developing a well substantiated basis for future projections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)70-75
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnthropocene Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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